MDC vice-president and former cabinet minister Gibson Sibanda has been given a lifeline to bounce back into government after it emerged that his party has positioned him to contest the Insiza North seat that will be vacant at the beginning of next month when the incumbent House of Assembly member takes up a diplomatic posting.
Sibanda, who was in February appointed a Minister of State in the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office responsible for National Healing, lost his cabinet post after he failed to secure a seat in the Senate or House of Assembly as per constitutional requirements. Â
According to Section 31 (e) of the Zimbabwe Constitution, every minister or deputy minister must either be an MP or a Senator when appointed or become one within three months of appointment.
The Arthur Mutambara-led MDC has been struggling to find a seat for Sibanda.
Party sources however told the Zimbabwe Independent this week that Sibanda – who is now a government consultant on national healing – is set to contest the Insiza North seat that will be left vacant by incumbent House of Assembly member, Malandu Siyabonga Ncube, who is set to take up a diplomatic posting in Nigeria after he was nominated by his party.
Malandu-Ncube is one of the five new ambassador-designates from the two MDC formations who are undergoing training before they are posted abroad.
The MDC-T has four nominees while the MDC-M has one.
“The road is now clear and Sibanda will now contest the Insiza North seat as his chances of winning there are quite high,” a source in the party said. “It would be difficult for the MDC to win anywhere else and Sibanda had told other party leaders that he did not want to be embarrassed by contesting in a by-election and losing.”
The sources said Sibanda stood high chances of winning the Insiza North seat as the constituency was in his home area.
“The party leaders have been trying to find a safe seat for Sibanda and they could not let him contest in any of the seats where there are suspended Members of Parliament as they feared that he could lose in by-elections to the suspended MPs if they stood as independents,” the source added.
The party’s spokesperson Edwin Mushoriwa however said his party has not taken a decision on which candidates would contest in which constituency in the forthcoming by-elections.
“The MDC has not made a decision on Sibanda and all this talk that he will contest Insiza North is mere speculation and we will have to sit down as a party and decide who contests in which constituency,” Mushoriwa said.
Sibanda lost his Nkulumane parliamentary seat in the March harmonised elections last year. He was defeated by MDC-T youth chairman Thamsanqa Mahlangu, who is now Deputy Minister of Youth.
Sibanda was Tsvangirai’s deputy president in the united MDC until October 2005 when he and other party leaders walked out on Tsvangirai to form a splinter party.
The party leadership then invited Mutambara who was based in South Africa to return home and lead the break away formation.